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ADEX 2021: KAI reveals more details about FA-50 upgrade plans

KAI has revealed more details about its plans to improve the range and combat capabilities of the FA-50 light attack aircraft. (KAI)

Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) has revealed more details about the planned upgrade of its FA-50 Fighting Eagle light combat aircraft, 60 examples of which are currently in service with the Republic of Korea Air Force (RoKAF).

Speaking to Janes at the Seoul International Aerospace & Defense Exhibition 2021 (ADEX 2021) held from 19–23 October, company officials said the upgrade, which is aimed at enhancing both the range and combat capabilities of the platform, is set to include fitting the aircraft with a conformal 300-gallon fuel tank for extended range and integrating the platform with targeting pods and new weapons systems, including mid-range air-to-surface missiles and beyond-visual-range air-to-air missiles (BVRAAMs).

Potential candidates for the mid-range air-to-surface missile include Kongsberg and Raytheon's Joint Strike Missile (JSM), Roketsan's Stand-Off Missile (SOM), and the Taurus KEPD 350K-2 from Taurus Systems. That said, South Korea's Agency for Defense Development (ADD), which is also involved in the FA-50 upgrade, has also expressed its intension to develop such a missile.

According to KAI, the upgrade, which is expected to begin in 2022, will also involve fitting the aircraft with a multi-mode fire-control radar, a glass cockpit with a large area display, a helmet-mounted display, an aerial refuelling capability, electronic warfare systems, a multimode network-centric system, a new tactical data link, and a digital flight control system with triple redundancy. The move is meant to convert the FA-50, which is also being offered for export, into a “true multi-role combat aircraft”, noted KAI.

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